Widespread Dust Seen Through Clouds – April 29, 2014

A strong cold frontal boundary that surged south across the high plains of Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas April 29, 2014 was forecast to produce widespread strong winds and blowing dust.   The presence of cloud cover is a key limitation of observing important surface features from satellite imagery.  The following series of imagery illustrates how the availability of the Dust RGB composite product can improve analysis of dust through clouds even when compared with other high resolution satellite imagery.  The 500-meter Visible valid at 2026 UTC over west Texas shows exceptional detail of the cloud field over the area however based on surface observations it is difficult to see verify any dust.  The 1-km True Color image valid at the same time also shows various cloud structures as well as the background appearance of the land surface.  Again, it is still difficult to discern any dust in the imagery.  Finally, the Dust RGB at 2026 UTC details precisely where the location of the main dust field exists beneath the cloud cover.  Source regions are even visible over southeastern Colorado.  A sharp boundary along the southern extent is also evident over the Permian Basin.  This area of dust surged west into eastern NM through the morning of the 30th and even produced visibility reductions in the Rio Grande Valley around Albuquerque.

MODIS-VIIRS 500-meter visible image valid at 2026 UTC April 29, 2014.

MODIS-VIIRS 500-meter visible image valid at 2026 UTC April 29, 2014.

MODIS-VIIRS 1-km True Color image valid 2026UTC April 29, 2014.

MODIS-VIIRS 1-km True Color image valid 2026UTC April 29, 2014.

MODIS-VIIRS 1-km Dust RGB image valid 2026UTC April 29, 2014.

MODIS-VIIRS 1-km Dust RGB image valid 2026UTC April 29, 2014.

One thought on “Widespread Dust Seen Through Clouds – April 29, 2014

  1. Albuquerque WFO,
    This is another great example of the value provided by applying multi-spectral products in the form of RGB imagery. While the visible imagery during the day shows a “haze” area spreading southward, it can be hard to appreciate where there is cloud/moisture vs. dust. The Dust RGB example here from MODIS Aqua (and a S-NPP image from VIIRS just 30 minutes earlier) do well to show the dust under the various convective features that developed with the heating of the day. Later at ~0800 UTC was another Aqua Dust RGB image showing dust at night in southeast NM. It was hard to see if dust was showing up in the Rio Grand valley near Albuquerque as you mentioned. If I’m looking at the topography correctly, the dust aloft would have to go “up hill” a bit in the flow from the east before going down into the valley. Amazing that such a large area is affected. I hope that Dust RGB image makes it to some “Image of the Day” location. Well done with communicating your experience to the larger community.

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